Aggies no match for Kansas State

MANHATTAN, KS [SPORTS BLOG: Read the latest from the Eyewitness Sports team]

The Wildcats didn't have to wait long to see how it feels.

Thomas ran for four touchdowns in the first half and Brandon Banks returned the second-half kickoff 97 yards for another score, leading Kansas State to an improbable 62-14 rout over Texas A&M Saturday night.

A week after allowing 66 points and more than 700 yards in that disheartening loss to Texas Tech, Kansas State (4-3, 2-1 Big 12) steamrolled Texas A&M on both sides of the ball for its most lopsided conference win since beating Iowa State 58-7 in 2002.

"It's meaningful, for obvious reasons after last week's loss and the way we played last week," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. "Were we going to play that way again or were we going to play better? We did play better."

That's an understatement.

Taking advantage of turnovers and having their way up front, the Wildcats led 38-0 at halftime after Thomas scored on runs of 7, 3, 9 and 17 yards. Kansas State didn't let up, either, scoring 21 points over the first 5:12 of the third quarter before Texas A&M (3-3, 0-2) finally started to put points on the board.

Keithen Valentine ran for a pair of touchdowns in the second half and Grant Gregory was steady after being replaced by Carson Coffman last week, throwing for 147 yards and a touchdown on 10-of-13 passing.

"It was like last week, only on our side," said Thomas, the sixth Kansas State to score four or more touchdowns in a game. "Texas Tech scored on will against us last week and it felt like that for us this week."

Overwhelmed by Texas Tech, Kansas State's defense took it out on Texas A&M, forcing five turnovers -- one more than Texas A&M had its first five games -- while holding the Aggies to 70 first-half yards and minus-13 yards rushing overall.

The Wildcats also harassed Jerrod Johnson, the Big 12's total offense leader, with six sacks and three interceptions, ending his Big 12 record at 242 pass attempts without throwing a pick. He finished with 314 yards passing and threw two touchdowns to Uzoma Nwachukwu -- both after Kansas State had built a 59-0 lead.

After a small step forward in last week's tight loss to Oklahoma State, the Aggies took a big slide back against Kansas State.

"We got our butt kicked every which way," Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman said. "There's no question about that. It goes with everybody. Offense, defense, special teams, coaches, staff, everybody. We all got our butt kicked tonight."

Kansas State's defensive dominance gave the Wildcats a short field most of the game and they took advantage, scoring on six of seven drives for their most points in a half since scoring 50 against New Mexico State in 2001.

Kansas State kept the pressure up from there, with Banks getting his school-record third kickoff return for a TD this season and Valentine scoring on runs of 9 and 20 yards to put away any thought of a comeback.

"We just got outplayed in every aspect of the game," said Johnson, who set a school record with his fourth 300-yard game of the season. "Anytime you lose like this, I don't see anything bright about that. This isn't us. This was a completely different team from last week."

Texas A&M was in trouble from the start. Running back Jamie McCoy fumbled on Aggies' second play from scrimmage and Kansas State's Troy Butler recovered at the Aggies' 29. Thomas scored four plays later on a 7-yard run up the middle.

Texas A&M's next two drives ended in punts and good field position for Kansas State. Josh Cherry put the Wildcats up 10-0 with a 23-yard field goal, then Thomas -- after a 24-yard punt return by Banks and a face-mask penalty -- went around right end for an easy 3-yard touchdown run when the Aggies blew outside containment on an option.

Nearly a touchdown underdog at home, Kansas State led 17-0 after the first quarter.

And the Wildcats weren't done. Far from it.

Tysyn Hartman ended Johnson's single-season conference record of no interceptions at 225 passes with a pick in the second quarter, setting up Thomas' fourth TD of the half.

Trying to run out the clock in the closing seconds, Johnson and Christine Michael had a bad exchange on a handoff and Kansas recovered the fumble. Gregory hit Collin Klein on a 16-yard touchdown pass on the next play to give the Wildcats more points in the first half than they had scored in five of six games this season.

"We wanted to see what kind of character we had after last week," Gregory said. "After getting totally annihilated, everything going wrong, what kind of team are you? Are you going to lay down or are you going to answer? I think we showed that we have a good-charactered football team."

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